By Chris Wescott – RogersPlace.com
Ed Sheeran provided his Edmonton fans with an entertaining and memorable evening at Rogers Place in his first of two North American tour shows in the city this week. Sheeran showed off his ridiculous musical talents and superb vocals with his impressively simple production.
But first, Edmonton was wooed by the sounds of James Blunt — Sheeran’s opening act for the evening.
Blunt is, in many ways, the perfect opening act for Sheeran as he too wooed the crowd with his stellar vocals and instrumental diversity.
Blunt, a Grammy-nominated artist having sold more than 20 million albums in his career, released his new album The Afterlove in March. Sheeran was a key co-writer on the album, helping Blunt write songs while visiting him in Switzerland.
Blunt finished his set on a high, mounting his piano to snap a photo of the wildly entertained crowd. He then handed the keys to the show to Sheeran himself.
After a brief intermission, Sheeran came jogging out to a roar from the crowd and immediately began strumming his guitar to the tune of his new hit “Castle on the Hill.”
Sheeran’s show is beautifully simple. The artist opts for a more purist concert. The band and instruments are carted away, the stage is cleared and in the end it is just one man, a guitar and a loop pedal.
While the lights and screens were still there, they were nothing like the spectacle of other artists. Sheeran puts on an almost throwback, stripped down show — yet with enough edge, talent and showmanship to make it a night to remember.
“It feels good here. It feels really good here,” said Sheeran, following his opening song.
The crowd was definitely feeling good as Sheeran serenaded the packed building with hits from his newest album Divide like “Eraser,” “New Man,” “Happier,” “Galway Girl,” “Hearts Don’t Break Around Here,” and “Perfect.”
But Sheeran also threw in some of his older work, like “Don’t” and “Bloodstream,” even mixing in his song “I See Fire,” written for the movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Sheeran enlisted the help of the crowd at the end to belt out the chorus.
Thousands of cellphone lights swayed to “The A Team” as Sheeran strummed one of his slower singles from 2011. And again, at Sheeran’s request, the mass of fans bobbed their arms up and down to “Bloodstream” as he kicked things up a notch.
The tempo of the night swayed between slow melodies and faster, more upbeat songs. Just as Sheeran brought the lights and tone down for “Perfect,” he brought the energy in the building back up again for “Nancy Mulligan.”
Sheeran closed out the evening with an ecstatic energy in the air, playing his 2014 hit single “SING.” The song got the crowd jumping up and down, while adding their own vocals to the background.
Just as he entered, Sheeran exited in the dark to the raucous support of a packed house. But his night wasn’t over yet.
Sheeran came back out for an encore, donning an Edmonton Oilers shirt with his name on the back. His song of choice to begin his encore was his new 2017 pop hit single “Shape of You,” which drew the cheers and singing support of the crowd.
The dancing and energy around the building reached a high for the evening as Sheeran asked, “Edmonton! Do you want one more!?”
Sheeran closed out his epic show by waving a Canadian flag and playing his guitar heavy, fast rapping “You Need Me, I Don’t Need You.” By the end it was clear, the Edmonton crowd needed more Ed Sheeran, and they’ll get it at his second show Wednesday night at Rogers Place.